Anything worth talking about, is worth blogging about

Two Democrats, Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Representative Barbara Lee of California have introduced a bill that would permanently cut off funding streams for the disaster known as ignorance I mean abstinence–only sex education (hat tip). As the United States midterm elections are imminent, I’m doubtful this law will actually get passed. But nevertheless, it is the right move. Abstinence–only has done nothing but cause unsafe sex, increase the teen pregnancy rate, and deprive young people of the knowledge they have every right to know.


Comments on: "Ignorance–only to be abstained from" (33)

  1. Abstinence only education reminds me of my cookbook’s instructions on cooking a soft boiled egg.

    “Soft boiled eggs are not recommended because they are easy to undercook and can cause salmonella.”

    Yeah? Well, that’s good advice and all, but what about the people who are going to cook them anyway? How about some tips to reduce the chances of salmonella?

  2. I can’t really help you about that because I know nothing about boiling eggs. My best advice would be to always hard boil them. Better to eliminate the possibility of this unsafe situation arising to begin with.

    That exanple seems particularly nasty, not only because it fails to show you how to prevent an unsafe situation, but also because it brings up the situation in the first place. It’s like this WP essay. Don’t give people the idea to do stupid things because they’ll do it.

    Here in North America (unsure of elsewhere), power outlets have holes for three prongs on them. One of the prongs is rounded; the other two are thin and insert into slot-shaped holes. On a two pronged-plug, these prongs are different. They are the same on a three-pronged plug. Hence, whether it has three prongs or two, a plug can only be plugged in one way. This is good because the only way to insert a plug into an outlet is the correct way. This improves safety, making it impossible to plug in wrong, reducing the one’s risk of electrocuting themselves or others or of burning the building down.

    Hence, rather than saying something negative, it should have said something positive. Something like: “Make sure to boil your eggs for at least two minutes” (or however long it takes to boil an egg).

  3. I was comparing that recipe to abstinence only education. They say, “We don’t recommend having sex because of diseases,” but that’s as far as they go. Just like the soft boiled egg recipe.

  4. What I’m saying is, while it’s true that abstinence is the only way to be 100% certain you won’t get diseases, like not eating soft boiled eggs is the only way to be 100% certain you won’t get salmonella, that’s not a realistic expectation. People are going to have sex just as people are going to eat eggs the way they want them. Tell them safer ways to do it, and we can minimise the risk.

    Of course, Republicans think that means we’re endorsing sex. But, Republicans don’t want kids to have sex because if THEY can’t have sex, they don’t want the kids to either.

  5. Indeed. Not promoting abstinence does not equal promoting sex.

    As for abstinence, promoting it is likely a lost cause. 95% of Americans have premarital sex, and it’s likely that the numbers in other Western countries are similar.

  6. I’m all for letting people know that abstinence is the only way to be 100% certain you won’t get diseases, but I’m certainly against stopping there. Getting the information out there to allow people to make their own decisions rather than forcing your decisions on other people is the better way of doing it.

  7. That would pretty much sum up my views. Give people all the information they need to know.

  8. But, it’s not like you could expect the government to give its people all the information.

  9. I find that in general it is parents trying to prevent their kids and other kids from getting that information. In an indirect sense it is (some) governments due to those people electing similar ignorance worshippers into power. Learning math in school does not prevent any of them from telling their kids in Sunday school that pi=3. The exact same reasoning applies to sex education. Basically, grow a spine and talk to your kids.

  10. On a similar note of ignorance for power (and it is on topic in that sense), if you walk through a public school in the United States, you will see all sorts of antidrug posters on the wall. Each of them has a different claim about drugs or a specific drug. Some of them are true. Some are blatant lies. Some, it’s not that simple. Is it really more important that kids don’t do drugs than they learn the actual dangers of drugs? If so, imagine this. A kid finds out a few of the posters are lies. Now what? Now, he’s going to assume the true ones are also lies. That really prevented him from doing drugs.

    And they wonder why so many kids are having unprotected sex, despite their abstinence education.

  11. Your point about anti-drug posters is an excellent one. As for myself, I favour treating drug addicts as having a medical problem. About 25% of federally (unsure about state) incarcerated prisoners are jailed for drug offenses. Liberalizing drug laws would allow the release of many of them, saving money. Drug liberalization on Portugal had numerous beneficial effects, such as a reduction in the spread of AIDS, more people seeking treatment, and a reduction in the number of teenagers using drugs (<a href="">cite).

  12. I’m not sure I would treat it as a medical problem. In my experience, all addiction is a matter of willpower, and not really chemical. They do it because they want to. It’s their own body, so why they hell should they be treated if they don’t want it?

  13. I’m sure that many of these people want to be treated. Criminalizing drug possession or use provides a disincentive for them to seek treatment.

  14. If they want to see a doctor, that’s their own business. I’m against forcing them to see one or necessarily calling them sick just as much as I am against criminalising their poison of choice.

  15. I’m against forcibly treating other too. In general (common law at least), there is a legal fiction of “peril invites rescue”. That is, someone who is (1) in distress and (2) unconscious is presumed to have consented to medical treatments that extend their lives. For example, if you find an unconscious person who has a simply fractured radius/ulna and who is bleeding so bad they will bleed to death, it is permissible (unless there is that they reject such treatments) to stop the bleeding because that will save their life. However, strictly speaking, it would be assault to set their broken arm because that is not necessary to extend their life.

  16. But, then, it would be immoral to send that person (or their insurance) a bill for treatment rendered. It is a dangerous assumption to assume someone who isn’t in a position to ask for medical assistance would be willing to pay for it. Those American EMS should be shut down for doing that kind of thing.

  17. It’s still better to save people in distress than to let them die.

  18. Yes. You’re right. But, if you DO save someone in distress, you have no legal or moral grounds to bill them or their insurance for services rendered.

  19. One might be able to make a case that if one is significantly responsible for their own being in distress, they or their insurance should be billed. For example, if, withou cause, you go out in a raging blizzard with deep snow and drive at 200 km/h, wantonly driving through red lights and stop signs, and then roll over and land in a ditch, perhaps you should be billed because no one forced you to do something so stupid.

    The “significantly responsible” part is important. Here’s why. In some sense, everyone is responsible for almost everything that happens to them. For example, if you are mugged in the street, you are in some sense responsible because you could have gone out with a bodyguard but didn’t. However, I don’t think people should be held responsible for being mugged. After all, no one forced the mugger to mug someone. Hence, there must be significant responsibility on the part of someone. I don’t know exactly where the boundary between “significant” and “not significant” lies, but I think that most incidents clearly lie on one side or the other and in the event of uncertainty we can play it safe and not bill them.

  20. By your logic, one may be billed for attempting suicide. But, if the person had gotten their way, they would have no bills to pay. Not only did someone give them the opposite of what they wanted, but now they’re trying to bill them for it too.

    No. At no point do you ever have a right to bill someone for something they didn’t ask for.

  21. Actually, it might be argued that someone attempting suicide has, to call it something, “psychological issues” (such as extreme depression, self-loathing caused by fundamentalism, etc) that in some way make it so that they did not know what they were doing. This provides a dodge so that it might be justifiable to not bill them.

  22. No. You punished them enough when you saved their life. It is a person’s business if he wants to commit suicide. If you don’t know that’s what his intentions are, then morally speaking, you should save his life, but billing him is out of the question. In fact, if you send him a bill, then YOU should be killed.

  23. Either that, or it should be legally permissible for him to throw a rock through your window and bill you for his services rendered, thus meaning YOU owe HIM twice as much, now, as you originally said he owed you.

  24. If you don’t know someone’s intentions, it is better to play it safe and assume they didn’t want to die. If they didn’t know what they are doing, what is the purpose of holding them responsible? There is no need to bill someone who is injured through no fault of his own.

  25. Could you tell that my unintentional hyperbole was the result of too much liquor?

    I think you’re missing my point. I know we are in agreement that it’s best to save someone’s life, when in doubt of their intentions. However, to bill them after finding out their intentions were to attempt suicide is to add an intentional wrong to the accidental wrong you’ve already committed. Best to just apologise, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you wanted to die. I just found you. I thought I was helping.” Don’t say, “Well, since you did this to yourself, now you have to pay me.”

    Do you see what I’m saying?

  26. Perhaps billing them would encourage the, to use a more reliable method. Such a thing involvng two different pills has been suggested. (I have no idea if it has been invented or built, yet.) You take one, and then take the other one a few hours or a day later. If you don’t take the second pill, you live. The required delay ensures that the person actually wants to die, rather than just being reckless in a situation that seemingly has no hope.

  27. That would be good but there is no way the United States would allow that. In the meantime, if you save someone’s life and then find out they WANTED to die, you apologise and be on your way, rather than billing them.

    NEVER BILL A PERSON FOR A SERVICE THEY DIDN’T REQUEST. And that means a lot coming from me considering that never is a word I rarely use.

  28. That argument could be used to argue against all city services. Property taxes support fire departments, for example. Even if you hever have to call it (therefore “requesting” it) yourself, you still have to pay taxes because it benefits you. No one should have to live next to a burnt-out hulk because burnt-out hulks are eyesore (therefore affecting the resale value of your house) and serve as a breeding ground for rats and pests (I know this from personal experience).

  29. Okay. I agree. Then since taxes pay for EMS services, even people who request an ambulance can’t be billed. There. You happy that you not only forced yourself to agree with my point, but also expanded its authority?

  30. Actually, here in BC, you always have to pay for a paramedic. You pay a lot more if it was unnecessary. The government also funds health and the like.

  31. If someone else ordered the service, that someone else pays for it, right?

  32. I’m pretty sure they don’t. When I was in high school, someone broke out in hives from a latex allergy. After emergency first aid, she was taken to hospital in an ambulance. I’m pretty sure the school didn’t have to pay for the paramedics. Based on this precedent, I’d say that the caller doesn’t automatically have to pay, although I’ll concede that its possible that a school is a special case due to their mandated duty of care, although I doubt it.

  33. So, if a person doesn’t order the service but receives it, without wanting it, and then he gets billed. What happens if he declines to pay stating as his reason that he refuses to pay for a service he didn’t ask for and didn’t want?

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